Voting Records on Animal Issues Before the United States Congress

Within the Vote section of the Fanimal site, we have covered several pieces of legislation before the United States Congress that would have an impact on animals and animal welfare. Below are examples of  animal related acts and how they breakdown based on the voting records of the politicians supporting them. For example, we will provide information such as the legislation is sponsored by members of both parties (bipartisan) or by a singular party (partisan), what disagreements exist, and the prognosis for the legislation.  

H.R.1238/S.500: Securing our Agriculture and Food Act
The Securing our Agriculture and Food act was passed and signed by President Trump on April 3, 2017 and authorizes a program to coordinate the Department of Homeland Security’s efforts related to food, agriculture, and veterinary defense from acts of terrorism and other high-consequence events that pose a risk to homeland security.

This act passed with 95% of Congress in Favor. Six Republicans voted no and 17 Democrats did not vote; this bill is clearly bipartisan and is important as we move into a new phase of counter-terrorism efforts. The FDA has been spearheading this initiative and in 2016 also sought to set out rules for facilities to come up with food defense plans in the case of an attempt to disrupt America’s food supply that could be intended to cause widespread illness or death.

H.R. 23: Gaining Responsibility on Water Act of 2017
This legislation prompts 40-year renewals of existing Central Valley Project Improvement  Act (CVPIA) contracts and affirms that the original intent of the CVPIA was to facilitate and expedite water transfers. These contracts are between the CVP and local municipalities and utility companies. The CVP exists to protect California’s waterways to reduce water shortages. The bill provides for an expedited review of all water transfer applications. This proposal would allow for there to be a cap or a ceiling on the amount of water that is distributed for fish and wildlife purposes to 800,00 acre-feet per year, the current accepted minimum. Detractors suggest that without these protections in place, emergency funding would be needed to restore fishing environments and the communities to sustainable levels, similar to an initiative in 2009 that required $150 million in additional funding for fishing communities.

This act barely passed the House of Representatives in June of 2017, with 53% voting for, 44% against, and 3% not voting. The ‘Yeas’ came in at 226 Republicans and 4 Democrats, while ‘Nays’ had 7 republicans and 183 Democrats. It has not currently been under debate in the Senate, with no timeframe given for consideration. Based on the votes, this is clearly a partisan issue which would be difficult to pass the 60-vote threshold needed in the senate.

The Wildlife Innovation and Longevity Driver (WILD) act is set to reauthorize the Fish and Wildlife programs to establish new ‘Theodore Roosevelt Genius’ prize competitions for prevention of wildlife poaching and trafficking, promotion of wildlife conservation, management of invasive species, and protection of endangered species. The bill establishes advisory boards for those prizes. Examples of such programs include mitigating invasive species around the country, restoring the habitats of the natural flora and fauna, and aggressively pursuing wildlife traffickers through criminal charges and asset recovery.

This bill passed the Senate on June 8, 2017 via voice vote with 3 Republican co-sponsors and 2 Democratic co-sponsors that would suggest that there is bipartisan support for this issue. Advocates for the WILD act point to a directive that would require Secretaries of Federal agencies (such as Army and Agriculture) to develop strategic plans to mitigate invasive species on federal lands. Though this bill has not been taken up for consideration by the House of Representatives yet, it is encouraging that a bipartisan piece of legislation could help endangered species in the United States.

H.R. 4577: Domestic Explosives Detection Canine Capacity Building Act of 2017
This bill directs the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to establish a working group to determine ways to develop a decentralized domestic canine breeding network to produce high quality explosives detection canines and modernize canine training standards.

This vote passed the house on a voice vote, therefore no record of individual votes was tallied, however, the bill does have 7 Republican co-sponsors and 2 Democratic co-sponsors, indicating that there is a level of bipartisanship with this legislation.

H.J.Res. 69: Providing for congressional disapproval of the final rule of the Department of the Interior relating to “Non-Subsistence Take of Wildlife, and Public Participation and Closure Procedures, on National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska”.
In 2017 through the Congressional Review Act, the majority Republican congress passed a resolution overturning a Department of Interior decision in 2016 which would have forbade Alaska Wildlife management from doing species control on Federal Public Refuges. What the majority deemed as an “illegal action to take control from the Alaska Wildlife management and give to the federal government agency Fish & Wildlife Service” was actually more contentious than media outlets reported. The Department of Interior rule was mainly directed at Federal Wildlife Refuges, as the Alaska Wildlife management species control policies have been known to be aggressive. The majority felt as though this was an infringement on the state of Alaska’s right and ultimately decided to overturn the decision, against the wishes of animal welfare organizations.

In the house, 220 Republicans and 5 Democrats voted ‘Yea’ while 10 Republicans and 183 Democrats voted ‘Nay’. The resolution ultimately passed on a 225-193 advantage, with 54% of congress approving – far from a clear majority. Similarly in the Senate, it passed along party lines 52 Republicans and 1 Independent (Angus King of Maine) in favor of the resolution and 47 Democrats and 1 Independent (Bernie Sanders of Vermont) opposed.

As seen here, even legislation relating to or affecting animals can involve partisan politics. Do you see a need for federal legislation regarding animals that has not been introduced? Want to tell your representatives to take a stand or change their position on an animal related cause? Check out our advocacy page for the latest tips, tricks, and true stories for advocating for animals.

Sources: Medium, National Ag Law Center, Food Safety News, US Congress, GovTrack, Alaska Audubon, National Invasive Species Council